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The Ocean boys are back in Vegas town

By Pseudonym
If you don’t know anything about the Ocean Trilogy you have probably been living in a cave for the last few years.... 2001’s Ocean’s 11 was a remake of the 1960’s Rat Pack classic of the same name, which featured Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. Although directed by Lewis Milestone, the conjecture behind the making of the 1960’s film is that it was mostly conceived and executed by Rat Pack Leader, Frank Sinatra, as a fun diversion for him and fellow rat packers to while away the day light hours of a Summer they spent in Vegas, playing to packed audiences at Vegas hot-spots of the era. As such the original did not have much of a tenable dramatic storyline or even much logic or a proper resolution and was mostly sold on its action orientation as a heist film. Its cutting edge (at the time) cinematography and, in particular, the ‘cool’ factor of its stars, which made it the ninth most successful film of 1960.
Similarly, the 2001 remake of Ocean’s did not have a lot to offer in the script department, but filmmakers Steven Soderbergh and Jerry Weintraub improved the concept, in my opinion, by emphasising on two key elements: First they continued to keep the movie trendy and in fact made it more stylistic and visually exciting in true Soderbergh style. And second, and most important, they made the movie a comedy. The result: Finally a movie that appealed to all audiences, the die hard fans of the new Hollywood elite and those that could not stomach it when these actors take themselves too seriously. Interesting and quirky touches such as the verbal interplay between characters and in particular the verbal shorthand between the Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty (Brad Pitt) were especially endearing. This emphasis on visual and stylistic elements and de-emphasis on star power lightened the load of what could have potentially been a disastrously long drawn out affair due to the inclusion of a cast featuring a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Cool Hollywood.
Unfortunately, the formula was not foolproof as witnessed by the relatively dismal showing of Ocean’s 12, which did not do as well critically, as its predecessor, but which did rake in some significant box office takings for a more than decent result.
The plot
Now that you know the background, let’s get on with the show. The newest in the Ocean series is Ocean’s 13 - which is also widely rumoured to be the last - and it has been conceptualised as a throwback to the Ocean gang’s Vegas gambling roots. The story centres on revenge (relatively obvious from the movie tag line “revenge is a funny thing”) and starts when Ocean’s gang member Reuben (played by Eliot Gould) gets threatened by hotel tycoon Willy Bank (played by an over-the-top Al Pacino) and has a heart attack to boot. It is later revealed that Reuben was swindled by Al Pacino’s character, who is incidentally also on the verge of opening his new hotel called the Bank, a place built for super rich gamblers (a.k.a. whales). The plot is relatively simple after that . . . they vow to ‘break the bank’ (pun intended) by fixing all the tables to pay out to all the big stakes gamblers playing on the night of the hotel’s official opening.
In the end
Although the story line is relatively simple and obvious, its execution is not as fluid. There are several add on segments that seem to have little significance to the ending. The only reason they seem to have been included is to make it appear to be more of a summer blockbuster than it actually is - a slight misjudgment by film makers. I found the continuous action a little tedious even though the whole movie was less than two hours long. However, its visual style and quick wits assured the audience that tedious or not, it would never be a boring movie. The strongest elements are still Soderbergh’s striking and almost brash visual style, the story’s elaborate twists and turns, as well as it abundant misdirections and plot manipulations and finally the sense of fun and play that the actors bring to the set.
But, however much they try, Ocean’s 13 does not meet the expectations of the audience - Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle and Casey Affleck are not used enough and the characters are secondary to the action. There is a lot of quirkiness amongst the main characters as played by George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon but this somehow makes them seem more neurotic than funny, which was not the case in previous movies. The all action approach also takes way from another key component - humour - which suffers because of numerous plots and machinations that you have to wade through to get to the point.
Ultimately, my recommendation is go watch the movie, it may not blow your mind but it definitely has some key moments, such as when Rusty catches Danny Ocean crying after watching an episode of Oprah, and it is a ‘worth see’ if not a ‘must see.’

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